The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company (IOMSPC) has reported a marked increase in the number of passengers using the company’s ferries during the first part of the year.

A total of 68,971 passengers travelled with the Steam Packet in the first 13 weeks of this year, compared to the 56,835 passengers that used the ferry firm over the same time period in 2023 - a rise of 21%.

A spokesperson from the Steam Packet said: ‘This has partially been helped by Easter falling earlier in the year, but also driven by increased utilisation of the Heysham route and the high-quality facilities and level of comfort provided by our new flagship Manxman.

‘With the motorcycle event of the year, the TT, racing towards the island in just a few weeks, the IOMSPC is looking forward to a strong year, with more passengers booked to travel over this year’s TT period compared to the same time last year. With over 45% of passengers traveling via Heysham on Manxman, the new ferry is again proving a popular option.’

The transportation of freight for island residents in the first quarter of 2024 also saw a 7% increase, with the IOMSPC carrying 103,973 meters of freight compared to 96,508 last year.

Managing director of the Steam Packet, Brian Thomson, said: ‘Manxman has elevated our service and set a new standard for passenger ferries, and we’re proud it is the flagship vessel in our fleet.

‘It’s fantastic to see residents and tourists excited to travel on board Manxman, and with TT just around the corner, it will be Manxman’s inaugural TT service.

‘We’re ready to welcome our valued TT visitors and showcase Manxman’s fantastic facilities, which prioritise passenger comfort, satisfaction, and safety.

‘Of course, the newly refurbished Manannan will provide an enhanced passenger experience for those travelling on the Liverpool route. With Manxman and Manannan, we have two of the best-appointed and quality vessels in the Irish Sea.’

It was recently announced that all four Steam Packet vessels (Manxman, Ben-my-Chree, Manannan and the MV Arrow for freight) would all be available for service during the TT fortnight.

The Ben-my-Chree will be available as a back up vessel for the Manxman despite the fact that maintenance will continue on the ship throughout the rest of 2024.

Talking about the maintenance, Treasury Minister Dr Alex Allinson said: ‘There's quite an extensive schedule of routine maintenance planned for this year.

‘From March 18, there was external hull painting on the starboard side which was carried out in Douglas. There is also set to be a new galley oven and dishwasher installed on Friday (April 19) amongst other things.

‘There is a fairly long list of work to be done, with a lot of it coming down to issues of wear and tear and certain aspects needing to be refreshened.’